The country’s oldest honey company says questions about the pollen count of some New Zealand honey also need to be asked, after a US survey found that 75% of American honey was processed to the point it has lost its health benefits and traceability.
Airborne Honey Chief Executive Peter Bray says the problem a US survey unveiled - where honey is ultra-filtered to remove impurities, but loses its natural health properties and ability to trace to its origins in the
process - isn’t just limited to that part of the world.
“Seventy five percent of the honey samples tested in the survey found that they’d been ultra filtered, which removes impurities and keeps the honey from crystallising quickly, but leads to these other problems. There are other ways to keep honey pure, that also retain its natural properties and
the ability to know where it came from. Those two things are so very important to New Zealand’s image as a supplier of fresh, untouched food, that it’s extremely important that we maintain our standards.”
Mr Bray says most New Zealand consumers are probably unaware that some honey is processed in this way - and that the honey that they are eating doesn’t necessarily deliver the qualities they’d expect.
“The reality is that so much natural food is significantly altered today, and people aren’t aware of it. As consumers, we want to know we are buying something that’s genuine, and it does what it claims to do,” Mr Bray says. “We’d like to see tougher regulations around labelling.”
Mr Bray says Manuka honey is a good example of an area that customers have high expectations that aren’t always met.
“It commands a high price because of its perceived health benefits, and so consumers deserve to be told the actual Manuka content in the jar they are buying. Stricter labelling regulations would ensure this.”
Established in 1910, Canterbury-based Airborne Honey is the longest serving honey company in New Zealand. The company has brought together a century of honey making experience with sophisticated processing and testing facilities to offer a consistently high quality, traceable product. Its unique ‘Honest, Undamaged and Traceable’ labelling tells the customer exactly what variety of honey is in each jar, and precisely where it came from, right back to the drum of honey in an apiary.
“We’ve put many years into our lab testing facilities and labelling system, and developed a Honey Standards Guide to help people navigate their way through the complexities of honey, and help them chose a high quality product each time.
“We’d like to see the US study as the impetus for more stringent labelling codes for New Zealand honey. This would give New Zealand consumers the confidence that they know exactly what they are eating, but also help strengthen our valuable export markets – with Manuka honey being worth an estimated $60 million alone, this is certainly significant.”
Bray says ultimately he believes the drive to increase the quality of honey will come from consumers.
“Around the world, people are increasingly asking questions about the quality of their food, and where it’s come from. Often, it’s very difficult for them to peel back the marketing spin to get answers to these questions. We’re a family owned business still going strong after more than a century because we’re able to guarantee what’s in each jar we sell. We’re simply calling for the enforcement of these same standards industry wide.”